Public Hearing Held to Name Alvaro Del Portillo Road

A public hearing was called on June 19, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. to name a 1-km stretch road commonly referred as “Kauswagan Road” into Alvaro Del Portillo Road, after the first prelate of Opus Dei and founder of CITE Technical Institute, Inc. The event was held at Barangay San Jose Social Hall and attended by the Barangay Council of San Jose headed by chieftain Hon. Joventino Ardaba. Residents of Purok 2 who supported the proposal were also in attendance and pledged their support to the the proposal. The proposal will be raised to the Cebu City council for further assessment and approval.

Background

The year was 1987. Democracy had just returned to the Philippines. We had a society still recovering from fractures and bruises brought about by Martial Law. People have seen the grotesque extremes of wealth and poverty, land-ownership disputes, and monopolistic industries in cahoots with the government.

Reforms were staggering after a historical EDSA Revolution People Power. The sight was harrowing to anyone who watched a country of then 57 million Filipino people struggling to get back to their feet from unspeakable poverty and political oppression. One man stood up and spoke of change: Alvaro del Portillo.

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo: A Force to Reckon With

Alvaro del Portillo was the first prelate of Opus Dei (Work of God). He was born in Madrid, Spain on March 11, 1914 from a devout Catholic family. He studied engineering and began working professionally in that field. He has doctorates in Engineering, History, and Canon Law.

Alvaro joined Opus Dei in 1935 and became a closest confidante of its founder St. Josemaría Escrivá for forty years. Opus Dei was erected by then Pope John Paul II in 1982 as a personal prelature promoting Christian life and the Church’s evangelizing mission in a way that complements the work of the dioceses. In keeping with his vocation to Opus Dei, Alvaro sought to sanctify his professional work and daily duties, and he carried out a broad apostolate.

The Holy See has entrusted a number of tasks to him which he carried out with utmost dedication. He was a consultor to several congregations and councils of the Holy See, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

He took part in the Second Vatican Council in various capacities, first as head of the ante-preparatory Commission on the Laity and then as secretary to the Commission on the Discipline of the Clergy, and also as a consultor to other commissions.

His books Faithful and Laity in the Church (1969) and On the Priesthood (1970) are largely the fruit of that experience. As a member of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, he also helped draft the current Code, promulgated by John Paul II in 1983. In the span of 19 years as the head of Opus Dei, the work of the prelature started in 30 new countries including social and apostolic projects including those in sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

Pastoral Visit to the Philippines: A Gift to the Cebuanos

During his 1987 pastoral visit to the Philippines as St. Josemaría Escrivá’s successor, Alvaro was baffled by the paradox of socio-economic plight that beset the country. He witnessed a social fabric torn asunder by inexplicable disparity between the rich and the poor resulting from chronic corruption.

Between January 21 and February 1, 1987, Alvaro made rounds in key cities spreading the message of universal call to holiness among lay people and bringing spirituality to the secular environments where the priests and religious are unable to reach. His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin was kind enough to host him in our country.

During one of the conferences in Manila, he exclaimed, “I have seen enormous wealth and enormous poverty,” while addressing a throng of audiences who attended his get-togethers and catechetical gatherings including one at the the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila and at Cebu Plaza Hotel where he gracefully answered personal questions on the spiritual life, sanctification of work, suffering, Christian joy, family life, and social responsibility. But most of all, Alvaro was moved by the sight of dilapidated shanties under the Mactan bridge and urged the faithful “to do something for the poor”.

Upon his return to Rome, Alvaro sent an Italian delegation to Cebu to help set up a technical school similar to Centro ELIS, a successful social project in an outlying district of Rome. He sent Dott. Umberto Farri of Istituto per la Cooperazione Universitaria and Luigi Maggi of Associazione Centro Elis, two Italian NGOs, in December 1987 to accompany an Italian delegation to check on the possibility of putting up a technical school in Cebu. The most conducive spot for such undertaking is Barrio San Jose (which was part of Barangay Talamban before).

The technical school is now called CITE (Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise) Technical Institute, Inc. located on the elevated part of Purok II, San Jose, Cebu City. The school was opened in 1990 and was formally inaugurated on February 23, 1992 by President Corazon Aquino

Alvaro’s visit has also inspired other initiatives such as training schools and organizations based in Batangas, Rizal, Iloilo, and Manila in the service of those who have less in life. Alvaro sparked the beginning of farm schools such as the Dagatan Family Farm School in Batangas, the Banilad Center for Professional Development (BCPD) in Cebu, the Development Advocacy for Women Volunteerism (DAWV) Foundation, Inc. in Pasig and the Family Cooperation Health Services Foundation or FAMCOHSEF which trains community health workers assisting the underprivileged.

Alvaro was fascinated at our solid Christian faith in and commented on the special role of Filipinos to spread their love for God in this part of the world.

“The Filipino people are a miracle of God,” he said.

The Cebuano people were very important to Alvaro that he saw to it that all initiatives of Opus Dei would put the Cebuanos’s welfare at the best interest of heart. This resonates in all activities and undertakings of members of Opus Dei as well.

Alvaro died on March 23, 1994 in Rome a few hours after he visited the Holy Land and celebrated his last Mass in the historic Cenacle, traditionally recognized as the place where Jesus Christ took the last supper as the first Mass. He was succeeded by Bishop Javier Echevarria who until his death in 2016 was able to continue the Work and aspirations of Alvaro by founding numerous institutions dedicated to immigrants, the sick and the marginalized, and to a number of centers who take care of the terminally ill.

On His Beatification and Road to Sainthood

Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree on the heroic Christian virtues of Alvaro del Portillo, declaring him to be “Venerable” on June 28, 2012.

On July 5, 2013, Pope Francis signed the decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approving a miracle obtained through the intercession of Alvaro del Portillo, thus paving the way for his beatification.

The miracle was the instantaneous healing of Chilean newborn baby named Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson in 2003. The boy suffered a massive hemorrhage and went into cardiac arrest. The medical team applied all the means for more than half an hour. His parents were praying for his revival through the intercession of Bishop Del Portillo. When the doctors considered the baby dead, his heart started to beat again and the boy recovered completely. For eleven years now, Jose Ignacio has been living a normal life.

On September 27, 2014 the Roman Catholic Church beatified Alvaro del Portillo in a solemn ceremony attended by people from over 90 countries including thousands of Filipinos.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, presided over the beatification rite and Mass in an expansive open area at Valdebabas, a park just outside the Spanish capital.

At the start of the ceremony, Amato read Pope Francis’ letter apostolic letter containing an aspiration from now Blessed Alvaro: ‘Thank you. Forgive me. Help me more’.

It was a humble utterance from an extraordinary man whose immense love for God and the less fortunate people especially the Cebuano people has continually inspired the lives of those he has touched through his teachings and ideals of sanctification of the ordinary lives.

The Feast Day of Blessed Alvaro is celebrated every May 12th of the year where Holy Mass is celebrated here in Cebu and in other parts of the world in his honor.

Inspired by Blessed Alvaro: CITE Technical Institute, Inc.

CITE Technical Institute, Inc. is an industry-based and socially-oriented institution which plays a relevant role in the economic and social development of Cebu, the Central Visayas, and surrounding areas. The school was established on February 14, 1990 through the aid of its proponents prominently in the forefront of education and training; namely, Instituto Per La Cooperazione Universitaria, Italy; Associazione Centro ELIS in Rome, Italy; MFI Foundation, Inc., Pasig City, Philippines; and University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Foundation, Inc., Pasig City, Philippines.

CITE provides top-quality technical training to graduates of senior high school belonging to the economically disadvantaged sector of society by means of scholarships. CITE was a leading provider of a 3-year technical program called the Industrial Technician Program from 1991-2016 offered to male graduates of high school who have fervent interest in pursuing technical-vocational courses.

Aside from the flagship program, CITE has extended its reach to male and female out-of-school youth in the region through its one-year program in Production Technology using the dual training program.

In 2017, CITE proactively responded to the dynamic landscapes in education leading the pack in the Visayas as the first school to be granted with the certificate of program registration from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority central office to offer the 3-year diploma program in Engineering Technology with four approved specializations; namely, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, and Electronics Engineering Technology.

In total, CITE has produced 5004 technician graduates under the technology-based program and 8248 male and female graduates under the short-term program called the Production Technology.

Diploma Program

Every school year, CITE receives more than 1500 applications from students from public and private high schools in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Due to its limited resources and constraints in space and capacity, CITE can only accommodate 450 students per school year.

Once accepted, a student can specialize in any of the diploma programs under the Dual Training System or DTS delivery mode. This type of program delivery combines theoretical and practical training. It is called “dual” because the training happens in two venues – the school and the company partner. Students learn the ropes of the trade in the school for one and half years and apply their technical know-how in the industries for another one and half years.

Industry Linkage

The program embodies a strong cooperation between CITE and the company and aims to benefit both components and the students. Students benefit from in-plant training exposure as the company partner makes use of their skills and potentials to heighten productivity. The program is carried out through a training plan.

Industry partners become a sponsor to the students by contributing to his partial cost of education in CITE in the form of training subsidies. Throughout this period, the students acquire relevant knowledge and skills as their training progresses and as they become more productive. Both students and industry partners are protected under the provision of
Philippine Republic Act 7686 also known as “The Dual Training System Act of 1994”.

CITE’s strong ties with the industries boost the success rate of graduates in terms of their employability. The industries through the company supervisors, plant personnel, and industry coordinators have long provided the avenue for students under their watch to experience real-work exposure while learning the tricks of the trade. CITE has 60 partner industries in manufacturing and service sectors who are lending their resources to hone the skills of the students and prepare them for their future careers.

Values Formation

Under the diploma programs, students receive formative activities vis-a-vis their academic preparation. The diploma programs are carefully farmed out to address the industry need for globally competitive middle-level manpower with skills-specific competencies.

Students are imbued with values formation as a result of co-curricular interventions and support systems such as one-on-one mentoring chats, advisory classes, active student clubs, and close coordination between industry supervisors and faculty members to ensure that their holistic development receives the best attention.

The students’ personal formation is entrusted to the prelature of Opus Dei. Blessed Alvaro’s teachings have also greatly contributed to develop the students’ formative aspects. This includes love for work, love for the Holy Mass, respect for freedom, taking personal responsibility; and charity, love of God above all and love of others.

Parents Involvement

Parents and guardians of the students also play a significant role in the cooperative education. CITE initiates a monthly parenting seminar series and teacher conferences with class advisers to ensure that parents are updated on the performance of the students in academic, attendance, and behavior.

In a span of three years, a parent will have attended 30 sessions of parenting seminars before they are awarded with the certificate of completion during graduation rites. About 10,000 parents have benefited from the parenting seminar series and other parenting formative activities such as fathers’ recollections and retreats handled by Opus Dei.

Faculty Development

The faculty and staff also undergo long-term training to keep them abreast with the ever changing landscape in technical-vocational education and assist them in their role in loco parentis. Upgrading courses, activities on formations through Blessed Alvaro’s teachings and ideals, and viable options for professional development are afforded to keep them stay in course and embrace their vocation as teachers.

At present, CITE has now 66 faculty members and support staff. About 90% of them are alumni of CITE.

Scholarships Linkage with LGUs and NGOs

Other linkages that provided support systems are the scholarship grantors and benefactors, both from local government units such as the Cebu City Scholarships program, civic groups and individuals who look after the welfare of the poor and by whatever means necessary extend their reach to them through scholarship grants in the form of pledges, transportation and meal allowances, tuition and fees, and board and lodging expenses to keep the students stay in the program.

CITE has 74 perpetual and non-perpetual scholarship grantors notwithstanding one-time donors on special occasions.

With all forces combined, students are kept in the program despite all the odds. A retention rate of 93% of students in the program is ensured through bridging programs, multi-level performance monitoring system, mentoring chats, close coordination between parents and teachers, and well-coordinated support systems to identify students at risk before they become one.

Community Outreach Programs

Our community outreach program has prepared both students and faculty members to be active global citizens by engaging them in service activities that enhance the quality of life for both others and themselves. With CITE’s tie-ups with civic groups, it has extended its reach to its immediate community (Barangay San Jose) through feeding programs, recollections, catechism, and mentoring for children.

The forthcoming inauguration of Alvaro del Portillo Hall on CITE’s 2250-sq. m. property will soon be the home of institutes and activities for alumni and the community it serves as well.

CITE and Barangay San Jose

Barangay San Jose is the home to about 7000 Cebuanos as of the 2015 Census. The barangay is composed of five sitios; namely, Panuayon, Kapangi-an, Buljo, Tigbao and Kantomagsing which were renamed to Purok 1 to 5. Barangay San Jose got its name in honor of Hospicio de San Jose in Barili, whose owner, the Cui family, owned a large area of land in the sitios.

Under the able leadership of current barangay chairman, Joventino Ardaba, the barangay is a safe haven for religious organizations such as the Franciscan Sisters Pro Infante Et Familia, Living the Gospel Community, and the Order of Discalced Augustinians, among others.

Barangay San Jose offers a unique perspective which gives anyone a pace of rural, small town living experience while bordered with the bustling life of Cebu City. Residents of San Jose have come from different places forming a unique fusion of culture that is unique on its own.

When CITE was erected in 1990, we had nothing in mind but to provide the immediate community an opportunity to study in a school that offers quality education on a study-now-sponsor-a-scholar later platform. The first batch of graduates came from the outskirts of Barangay Talamban and Barangay San Jose. Scholarships poured in from the provincial and city government of Cebu.

Now, CITE has 5000 graduates from its flagship program with 150 of these graduates from different sitios in Barangay San Jose since Batch 1. Many of these graduates have drawn inspiration from the teachings of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo when they studied in CITE.

The education they received has paved way for them to find financially rewarding careers here and abroad thus giving their families a better deal in life — a dream come true for the founder of CITE, Blessed Alvaro.

CITE continues to commit to the ideals of Blessed Alvaro to help the underprivileged youth get a shot at life with holistic education. The school may outlive us, but the reason for being still remains. It rests on the founder’s strong words to help those who have less in life to close the gap between the haves and havenots with one of life’s greatest equalizers — quality education.

Testimonies

Thelma Catulpos, mother of Jeth Douglas and Jeff Laurence:

“Ang pagpaeskewela nako sa mga bata sa CITE kini gumikan sa dili ko ka-afford sa university ug sa kalisod sa pangita namong magtiayon. Pag balhin namo ug balik sa San Jose, nakita nako nga nindot ang eskwelahan kay hasta kaming mga ginikanan giapil sa pag-edukar labi na adunay parenting seminar matag buwan. Ang akong bana apil sab sa recollection. Ug ang duha nako ka anak, nagtrabaho na sa Cebu Mitsumi as technicians.”

Jomel Encarguez, Batch 25:

“Daghan ko ug nakat-onan sa CITE. Nakatrabaho ko kay nakahuman ko sa CITE with the help of my teachers and the formative activities I received from CITE. I was a member of the outreach program of the school. I can say that being a high school graduate of Alternative Learning System, the school program helped me bridge from ALS to college.”

Alfie Daligdig, Batch 24:

“I have learned how to live as a good example because of the learnings from CITE. Now that I am a public servant, I have used my skills to help improve the lives of my constituents.”

Brendon Baclaan, CITE Staff :

“Blessed Alvaro has been my recourse if there are problems in the family. In 2014, my wife had suffered from a complication in her pregnancy and the doctor had told me to prepare a large amount of money for her operation. But after few days of praying using his prayer card, both the doctor and I were surprised that after another check-up, she was healed miraculously from the complications. She had a normal delivery on that year and I attributed it to Blessed Alvaro’s intercession.”

Summary

Hundreds of students ply the Kauswagan Road on their way to CITE everyday. Some of them come from different places in Cebu. Some are just living in the community. These young people hoped that with the education they from CITE would help them land on job opportunities and eventually make the lives of their families comfortable as well.

CITE Technical Institute, Inc. is a beacon of hope for the underprivileged youth whose opportunity to study in universities seemed a far-fetched reality. Its founder, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, has seen it in his mind that in order to best help these young people is through quality yet affordable education that equips young people not only the necessary skills and knowledge but true education that makes them good Christians with a solid foundation on faith.

The inception of CITE comes from knowing that through education, we can help in nation-building by preparing our young people to be functional citizens of our country imbibed with the Christian spirit, as Blessed Alvaro has envisioned in the past. The immediacy and urgency of doing such still resonated until now as it was in 1987 when he first saw the disparity between the rich and the poor.

The Alvaro del Portillo Road is a metaphor that every step these young hopefuls take can lead to their dreams. Surely, there must be “bumps and cracks” along their journey, but they will be guided by the ideals held dearly by the members of the Work, the dedicated faculty members of CITE, and the community who believed in CITE’s altruistic mission-vision of making a difference.

The road, as our dedication to CITE founder, and a symbolic value that is transcending our generation would always be a remembrance to us and provide a social significance to the future generation to:

  • live our lives as good examples in the community we live by having the poor’s best interest at heart as shown by Blessed Alvaro’s dedication to the less fortunate ones here and in other countries through countless pro-poor organizations and undertakings engendering a positive image for the community;
  • to remind us about the teaching and apostolate of Blessed Alvaro and the Founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva, on sanctification of the ordinary lives by welcoming people from all walks of life into its fold especially those who have less in life;
  • to remind us of the profound vision of Blessed Alvaro that has turned into a reality through a school that helps the Filipino family and give due regard to the immediate community and local government unit to fight poverty through quality education; and finally
  • to continually ask the intercession of Blessed Alvaro to constantly bless the residents of Barangay San Jose including the establishment and religious organizations nearby who are inspired by the undertakings of CITE.

References:

Periodicals

Darang, Josephine. “Purely Personal: Escriva successor to be beatified after
reported miracle.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. 4 Aug 2013.

Orosa, Rosalinda L. “Filipinos a ‘miracle of God’: Alvaro del Portillo beatified”.
The Philippine Star. 27 September 2014.

Books

Cavalleri, Cesare. 40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St.
Josemaria Escriva. New York: Scepter Publishers, 2000.

Coverdale, John F. Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo. New York: Scepter
Publishers, 2014.

Website

“Biography of Alvaro del Portillo. Opusdei.org. Prelatura del Opus Dei,
Fundación Studium, Scriptor. 22 February 2020. February 2020.
<https://opusdei.org/en/section/bishop-alvaro-del-portillo/>.